History & Systems
Journal Entry 2: Personality Psychology
Chapter 11 focuses on the personality psychologists' research methods and common theories in understanding how human personality is created/formed through cognitive, hereditary and internal/external factors that affect our daily lives. The author explains the complications behind researching personalities such as the fundamental units of a personality, different test administration for personality types, conflicting views with other psychological fields, and the validity of data collected. Personality was often a study of interest many could not fully explain back in the past (people relied on using expressiveness and appearance of a person's face or body to understand their personality) and was not thought of as a science like psychology but it has evolved over time to become a popular topic among everyday people (more so in the entertainment of horoscopes) and branched into new psychological areas (like Positive Psychology) worth studying.
Some key questions at the beginning of the chapter asked how can personality be described by accounting the differences in the characteristics of individuals and their behavior as well as how can one best judge others' characters and know what to expect of them. The author introduces these questions to the reader earlier in the chapter so that they can think over how the evolution of personality theories affected other related areas of psychology that were closely linked but unclear in explaining peoples' characters (such as behaviorism, physiognomy, and phrenology). Most importantly, a significant portion of the chapter deeply analyzes the types of personality tests or measures used in order for the reader to question which would work best after looking at each strength and weakness in identifying personality traits. This supports the author's question for the readers of how difficult it is to organize personality traits and stick to one research method when you can have a multitude of different results depending on what you specifically want to experiment about. When thinking about it, a lot of today's online personality tests aren't always accurate and can give different results despite trying to measure the same set of personality traits they claim. This can even make one feel skeptical about their own personality dare I say.
There were various concepts that I found to be a refresher from my Personality Psychology class last semester, but the ones that stood out to me the most were about the locus of control and twin studies in understanding personality through social/genetic factors. The locus of control is something that we all can relate to as there are certain times we feel in control of our actions or consequences and sometimes we blame it on things outside of our reach. This concept was founded by Julian Rotter while researching how personality could be incorporated into the social learning realm of psychology. After studying how his patients viewed their life based on critical (good or bad) experiences, he found that they had created "generalized expectancies" for how certain kinds of behaviors will emerge depending on the circumstances (good or bad). For example, optimistic people have greater confidence in acing a test compared to someone who's always believed they have "bad luck", thus their locus of control is more internal whereas the latter is external. In addition, the author discusses about how twin studies have provided most of the genetic evidence for understanding personality in cases of separated twins. By looking in these circumstances of twins raised without any contact with one another, researchers can view the genetic factors intertwining with the social upbringing of the twins compare to non-twin siblings or individuals in directing their personalities.
Check out my psychology project video I made about Nature vs. Nurture and see how if you can spot any related concepts mentioned in the chapter!
If one thinks about it more deeply, how do all the horoscope readings or online personality tests today's people find themselves fascinated with reveal their unique personalities accurately or are they just for our own amusement? Personality feels more like a social trend rather than a science because of the way it is used to understand our characters with so many common traits we may share with others. Do people really care about how their personality is formed or are they more interested in what they get after completing a long assessment or a series of Buzzfeed quizzes? Most people don't care about the process, which is why understanding personality is sometimes taken for granted and is viewed more so for personal interest instead of being serious. Earlier forms of comprehending the subject were done through observation and personal inference and with the various tests created, it's hard to say which one is right based on the data used to create it and the results you get. Thus, it can be challenging to trust what personality tests or inventories have to say about an individual's character compare to what their close friends and family will have to say about them.
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